Ten Days of openSUSE, Day Four: GRUB2

Day four of the count down to openSUSE 11.4, I’ve covered the kernel, some higher level apps and today I wanted to jump all the way back down to the beginning. The beginning of every experience with Linux, Windows and Mac OS X starts with the bootloader.

The bootloader is responsible for getting your computer from “POST” (power-on self-test) to the operating system. Think of it like the ignition switch in your car, something has to get things going and for computers the bootloader is it.

Historically, openSUSE has shipped with GRUB. GRUB has long been the bootloader of choice for Linux users running on PCs, and has now been supplanted by GRUB2.

I thought a grub was an insect?In order to preserve stability for users, the openSUSE project still defaults to GRUB for now, but GRUB2 is available for testing in 11.4 for those users willing to take the plunge. If you’re interested in trying it out, check out this page on the wiki for more details and how to get yourself booted if you get stuck.

So what’s so special about GRUB2 compared to the original GRUB? The folks who maintain Ubuntu’s “community documentation” wrote up a nice comparison that you can take a look at if you’re interested, but here’s the highlights:

  • With GRUB2 you can boot LiveCD ISO images straight from your hard drive
  • Better graphical boot menu support
  • Themes!
  • Rescue mode
  • Improved speed and reliability
  • Auto-detect other operating systems like Windows, etc.

Personally, I run openSUSE on my laptop, so I rarely see the bootloader but I’m glad the openSUSE team’s attention to detail encompasses the entirety of the computing experience from start to finish.

If you’re a dual-booter, be sure to grab openSUSE 11.4 on March 10th and try out the fancy new GRUB 🙂

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